May 21, 2017, 1:33 PM ET [155 Comments]
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The Eastern Conference Finals is pretty much set in its ways. Ottawa's strategy has been successful enough to get them to where they are. Pittsburgh will continue to lean on its star forwards and goaltending to combat their below average defensive play.
Matt Murray will get the nod for the second consecutive game after being one of the reasons for victory in Game 4.
Pittsburgh may get some help on the injury front today both defensively and offensively.
This includes Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, and Justin Schultz. It is kind of a big deal if all three can make their way back into the lineup. If both Hornqvist and Rust play I would go with the following.
Yes, I am aware Carter Rowney has played good. I am going with players who have shown to have a better offensive upside. Possession wise Rowney has done everything you want from a depth player. He has zero points in his last 12 games.
That isn't to say Sheary is off the hook. He has one point in his last ten games, which is also terrible, but he led the NHL in points per 60 this year at even-strength and because of that he gets more rope from me. The concussion Sheary suffered has clearly had an impact on his game. Here is how he's played since being knocked out of action against the Capitals
First four games weren't good at all. He's starting to make headway. I'd gamble on him continuing to improve. Again, take chances on the players who have a high ceiling not on guys who's ceiling is "OK".
Every line has some speed on it which is what helps against a team formatted like Ottawa.
You can always shorten the bench and create "super lines" during the game, but that isn't exactly a staple of Mike Sullivan's approach.
If those "game-time decisions" don't play I wouldn't look for Mike Sullivan to change his lines from Game 4.
Chad Ruhwedel will be missing today which was expected. Tom Kuhnhackl will also be out of the lineup.
Ottawa will be missing Alex Burrows.
Bobby Ryan will be in action. As far as I know the league didn't even look at his head shot on Ruhwedel.
Who is going to take a strangle hold on this series? We'll find out in a few hours.